• 07/07/2022

    Upholding young users’ autonomy and enhancing algorithmic literacy by web design: the case of the ALVEHO website

    Location: Algocount international conference, Milan

    Young adults’ ability to construct themselves as informed citizens depends on the information they access online on social media platforms on which recommendation algorithms play an important gatekeeping role (Claes et al., 2021). Yet, popular narratives related to recommendation systems tend to overestimate the impact of algorithmic news curation on users while downplaying their agency over the system (see the “filter bubble” theory [Pariser, 2012]). Consequently, these narratives conceal users’ strategies to act upon algorithms and restrict our understanding of the algorithmic public opinion. However, current research on the subject provides us with a more nuanced image of how users interact with recommendation systems (Bruns, 2019; Dahlgren, 2021; Moeller & Helberger, 2018). Other contributions have also highlighted how users adapt their behaviour according to complex sets of representations and imaginaries (Bucher, 2017; Eslami et al., 2015). These tactics and knowledge around algorithms are evidence of an “algorithmic literacy” (Bruns, 2019) that should be studied as it influences users’ exposure to information (Swart, 2021). For the first part of our communication, we will report the findings of a survey involving 13 young adults from Brussels (Belgium) about how they perceive and interact with algorithms on social media platforms. We will illustrate the tactics they have developed to retrieve some form of authority over the system. However, most of these tactics are limited by the affordances of the system (Davis, 2020). This raises the question of whether it is possible to develop a system that upholds users’ autonomy (Milano et al., 2020) rather than trapping users (Seaver, 2019). In the second part of our communication, we will present an experimental website (ALVEHO) developed in collaboration with the French-speaking public broadcaster in Belgium (RTBF). Our platform aims at enhancing algorithmic literacy by allowing users to tinker with the algorithm thanks to transparency design and control functionalities. In this section, we will report the first experimental results made with ALVEHO and reflect on the features that could potentially encourage users to scrutinise algorithmic recommendations and question their effects.

  • 27/04/2022

    ALG-OPINION: éducation à l’algorithmique et opinions citoyennes des adolescents​

    Location: Conférence SETT, Namur

    Face à un public de professionnels de l'enseignement, l'équipe d'Alg-Opinion a présenté les principaux résultats des recherches menées dans le cadre du projet et a exposé les possibilités offertes par la plateforme ALVEHO développée afin de favoriser une littératie algorithmique chez les jeunes publics et les adultes qui les encadrent au sein des milieux (para-)scolaires en Belgique.

  • 11/12/2021

    Vivre avec les algorithmes de recommandation : le premier test d'une activité d'éducation aux médias inédite

    Location: Namur

    L'équipe du projet Alg-Opinion est en train de développer une activité d'éducation aux médias, en collaboration avec Média Animation asbl, visant à contribuer au développement d'une littératie algorithmique auprès des publics jeunes. Cette animation tire profit de la plateforme ALVEHO développée dans le cadre de cette recherche, qui rend certaines modalités de fonctionnement d'un algorithme de recommandation visibles et qui permet à l'utilisateur de modifier les paramètres de recommandation de l'algorithme présent sur la plateforme. En décembre 2021, l'équipe a réalisé un premier test de cette animation au cours de l'assemblée générale pédagogique de l'association Action Médias Jeunes (ACMJ).

  • 18-19/11/2021

    Young perceptions of content personalisation on social media: a user study

    Location: CRIDS - Time to reshape the digital society

    The way in which social networking sites are constructed —providing personalised interfaces through recommendation systems— disrupts how users access and process information as well as, more fundamentally, the processes that form their opinions. In this context, we take on an interdisciplinary perspective mixing media studies, science and technology studies and computer science to examine the relevance of the "filter bubble" theory. This theory asserts that customizing the recommendation and classification of content based on users' past behaviour reduces the proportion of conflicting opinions that are visible to them, thus facilitating the creation of so called “echo chambers” (Sunstein, 2009) or “filter bubbles” (Pariser, 2011).However, several studies invite us to question the validity of this theory (Bruns, 2019; Dahlgren, 2021; Dubois & Blank, 2018; Moeller and Helberger, 2018; Mutz and Young, 2011; Zuiderveen Borgesius et al., 2016). More than trying to identify specific bubbles or quantify them, our work aims at understanding how teenagers and young adults perceive these mechanisms. To understand the relationship between these systems and young users (15-25 years old), we have analysed the discourses of teachers, media experts and young users on this topic gathered during 21 interviews, 19 focus groups and 13 in praxis interviews in Brussels. Our results show that young users have various degrees of understanding of the different mechanisms operating for each platform. If most perceive filtering mechanisms to some extent such as content classification on their Instagram feeds, others don’t and feel that they will find “more diverse” information by scrolling through social networking sites than by watching television or listening to the radio. The fact that the workings of these technologies are completely known to them also brings up fantasized representations such as cross-platform data transfers (for example how watching something on Youtube will influence what appears on other platforms). When it comes to evaluating these personalisation mechanisms, young users have conflicted views. If a few denounce them and feel literally trapped “in a bubble”, most do not have strong opinions and some even enjoy customizationpossibilities which allow them to enjoy the content they crave. Teens then also highlight the possibilities to influence the content offered to them. They develop strategies and tactics (de Certeau, 1990) intending to guide the platforms in personalising content. These are not all aimed at diminishing bubble effects, as some try to accentuate them. This can range from subscribing to, or unsubscribing from, different types of accounts on the platforms, liking content on purpose or directly providing information to the algorithms through feedback the modules of the platforms. These results contribute to deepen the understanding of the roles of young users within those socio-technical infrastructures.

  • 07-09/04/2021

    Serons-nous gouvernés par nos données ? Analyses des résistances à l’exploitation politique des big data

    Location: Colloque conjoint ABSP CoSPoF

    Les résultats montrent que les adolescents ont différents degrés de compréhension des différents mécanismes opérant pour chaque plateforme. Si la plupart perçoivent les mécanismes de filtrage dans une certaine mesure, d'autres ne le pensent pas et estiment qu'ils trouveront des informations plus diverses en parcourant les réseaux sociaux qu'en regardant la télévision ou en écoutant la radio. Le fait que le fonctionnement de ces technologies leur soit relativement connu fait également apparaître des représentations erronées voire fantasmées.

  • 09/10/2020

    Ca m’a vraiment choqué mais… Analyse de la relation entre fonctionnement des réseaux sociaux et perceptions de l’actualité chez les jeunes bruxellois

    Location: Colloque "Médias, émotions et politique"

    La communication propose de rendre compte du design de recherche et des premières analyses découlant de la réalisation d’entretiens semi directifs menés avec des enseignants et des experts de l’éducation aux médias (n=15) ainsi que d’ animations réalisées dans différentes classes (n=5) et d’entretiens individuels approfondis auprès des jeunes. In fine, cette recherche exploratoire contribue à mieux saisir la transformation des usages numériques au 21ème siècle et le potentiel impact sociétal des algorithmes de recommandation sur la formation des opinions.